Monday, September 7, 2009

stuck on denial

Being a fan of two teams can be a little strange. Especially when the two teams follow eerily similar paths through the college football journey of destiny. Maybe when you have two favorites, it's near-impossible not to create parallels in your head, but over the past couple years, they've jumped out like a Magic Eye puzzle. You don't have to squint to see them, you just sort of.....unfocus, and there they are. This offseason more so than ever. Both teams making a radical shift to a spread offense. Both teams with high hopes for that offense and paper-thin defenses. Both teams with coaches on something of a hot seat, and both teams with three quarterbacks with the coaches saying all three will take snaps.

Some of these similarities are of the highly undesirable sort. Neither team has beaten its end of season rival since 2003, for example. Neither team went bowling last year. And now, there's yet another concurrence between the fates of these two teams. One that I was hoping never to have to see again.

Terminally ill patients are said to go through five stages of grief. "Terminally ill" is a pretty good way to describe a season opener in which your team was not expected to be good and looked worse. Anger's over with. There's also denial. I like denial. Let's roll with denial for a bit. Not to pretend it never happened, but we'll ignore the obvious fallout from the game and not go down the path of "how long does Al Groh have?" That's played out before it even begins. Anyone hoping for a diatribe on Groh's coaching is going to be disappointed, and frankly, you did it to yourselves. Here we are, finally legitimately wondering if this is the end of the line, and already it's gotten stale because that question got brought up years too soon. If that happens this season, then it happens, but there's no sense worrying about it quite yet because it's certainly not going to happen before next week.

In fact, let's take denial a step further. No, the season isn't toast, and I'll tell you why: seven turnovers. I think the defense acquitted itself OK and had we not turned the ball over seven times, the general theme would be "the offense needs to improve but the defense looks good." (In other words, a watered-down version of the theme of last year's Richmond game.) The 16 points off turnovers turned a really lame win into a horrible loss. I'm willing to bet we don't commit seven turnovers in a game for another four years.

That said, the offense does need to get better, turnovers or no. How that will be, I have no idea. It'd be nice to start by figuring out who the quarterback is going to be. It's pretty obvious what the pecking order was to start the game: Sewell, Hall, Verica. Having already thrown two interceptions, the coaches had enough confidence in Sewell to let him go out there and throw another one. In fact, I'd say a lot of our preconceived notions about the quarterbacks came absolutely true, mostly on the pessimistic side. Verica can't really run the ball. Hall can't really throw it. Sewell can do either but not especially well - the wax paper was out yet again in full force. The season isn't lost, but it's going to be very soon if a quarterback doesn't step up.

One can only hope the similarities between Michigan and Virginia don't stop any time soon. You may recall that Michigan put together a respectable 9-4 season after losing to a I-AA team. History says anything's possible: you may also recall that Jameel Sewell threw two interceptions in a 23-3 loss to Wyoming on that same September day in 2007, and that season turned out OK too. This is what people call "grasping at straws," but what else is there to do?


Tim said...

I have to think Groh is done if they don't go bowling this year. The good news for Groh is that the ACC is still bad, so can he squeak out six wins.

Let's take a look at where they might come from:

Good Chance (+75%) for a win:

Ok Chance (~50%):
Southern Miss

Poor Chance (~25%):

Not likely (~10%):

This TCU game will be huge. If they lose, it is tough to see them getting to 6 wins.

Brendan said...

It's kind of tough to see them getting to six wins now as it is. Going bowling would now assume one of two things happen: either we prove ourselves to be a lot better team than that, or we steal six wins from somewhere without ever tripping up again against teams we should beat.